Teenage romance is already a popular genre, and adding a layer of tragedy makes it even more appealing to the audience. Watching two star-crossed lovers find each other despite all the hurdles in their path gives hope to the viewers. The death of one of the characters is often used as a trope to add an emotional angle to the story, but a couple of years back, Hollywood found a greater scope in the stories where death was more than just a twist. People suffering from terminal diseases were the protagonists of these stories. Their predestined tragedy added more emotional punch and left the audience in shambles, even when they knew how the film would end. The predictability made it all the worse.
The success of movies like ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ and ‘Me Before You’ convinced the filmmakers that the audience connects to these stories on a deeper level. It could be because they have been through something similar, or just that they begin to appreciate their normal lives even more. These films motivate them like none other. ‘Five Feet Apart’ is another entry in this list. It met with as much success on the box office as it left the viewers drowning in their own tears. If you haven’t yet seen it, you should bookmark this page for later. Get some tissues and cry your heart out at its ending before coming back. Watch it here. SPOILERS AHEAD
Summary of the Plot
Cystic Fibrosis is a rare disease that primarily affects one’s lungs. Apart from its own complications, the disease also places a severe restriction on the patients. They become so prone to contracting each other’s bacteria, which differ from person to person, that they have to maintain a six feet distance between themselves. Stella meets Will under such circumstances. Both of them are going through a treatment, which determines if and when they should receive a lung transplant.
While Stella is stoic about her regime, she is a free-spirited girl who documents her experience in a video and shares it on her YouTube channel. Will, on the other hand, has accepted the moroseness of his mortality and doesn’t seem so keen about the treatment. When Stella comes to know about it, she forces him to get into discipline because she literally can’t stand it. She suffers from clinical OCD and needs to be in control of the situations around her. Amused by her, Will strikes a deal in which she gets to arrange her meds in order while he gets to sketch her portrait. The staff warns them to maintain a distance from each other, especially Stella, who is in line to receive a transplant. But their romance blooms and they fall in love.
Five Feet Apart Ending: Do Will and Stella End up Together?
Despite the strong disapproval from Nurse Barbara, Will and Stella enjoy their secret dates and forbidden romance. On his birthday, Stella surprises him by inviting their friends and arranging a party with Poe’s help. Everything seems perfect, but then, tragedy strikes. Poe’s condition suddenly deteriorates and he passes away. Stella is grief-stricken and finally accepts the fact that she has let her treatment become the only thing she has in her life. She leaves the hospital at night and is joined by a reluctant Will.
While having fun outside, Stella receives a message from the hospital informing her that her surgery is scheduled in a few hours and she needs to return. But she chooses to spend time with Will and doesn’t respond. When he comes to know about it, he makes her go back, but she falls off the bridge and into the lake. In an attempt to save her, he administers CPR. They are brought back to the hospital, where she is given a lung transplant. Nurse Barbara tells Will that somehow Stella did not contract his bacteria and will be fine. However, the treatment doesn’t seem to be working on him. Aware that his presence will not allow Stella to move on, he gives her one last surprise and breaks off their relationship. The film ends with Stella creating another video, talking about the importance of human touch.
Walking into a story like ‘Five Feet Apart’, the viewer knows that a heart-breaking ending is in store. The one ray of hope that we have is that there is no fixed end to the story. Unlike Augustus, who got a proper eulogy and whom we saw die on-screen (and now we’ll spend another hour crying about it), no such thing happens with Will. He might not be responding to the treatment, but it is just this treatment. Who knows what the future has in store for him, where he’ll go from here! Perhaps, he switches to another treatment and gets better from it.
While Stella let him go this time, we should also consider that she had just been out of surgery. At that time, she couldn’t do anything about it, she could barely speak anything. But now that she is better, and because she likes to be in control of her situation, we can’t entirely condemn the idea that she will try to get back to Will. In fact, her last message only reinforces this possibility. She wants her listeners to seize the opportunity of spending time with their loved ones, to touch each other while they can. Her message is full of encouragement, and if she can give others hope, who’s to say that she won’t be inspired by her own words.
The whole idea of the film is to find love in the most despairing of situations. And after giving us a dreamy romance to root for, the film doesn’t mercilessly cut the cord with the stab of reality. Stella is better now, and if you want it, so will be Will.